Greek Muslims Want Justice Over Qur'an Insult
Muslim immigrants want the policeman brought to justice for insulting the Noble Qur'an.
ATHENS — As protests continued unabated over the desecration of the Noble Qur'an by a Greek policeman, Muslim immigrants are calling for bringing the officer to justice for insulting the Muslim holy book.
"We want to live here in peace," an Egyptian immigrant, who identified himself as Said told Reuters.
"We don't want trouble but we want the policeman to be punished."
Hundreds of Muslim immigrants took to the streets of the capital Athens for the second consecutive day to protest the destruction of the Qur'an by a policeman.
Chanting "Allah is great", the protestors carried banners reading "Hands off immigrants" and holding up copies of the Noble Qur'an.
Clashes erupted between the angry protestors and police, injuring seven immigrants and seven policemen. Police said 46 protesters were arrested.
The protestors were outraged by reports that during police checks at a Syrian-owned coffee shop on Wednesday, an officer took a customer's Qur'an, tore it up, threw it on the floor and stomped on it.
"Immigrants are outraged," Vasso Akrivou, a member of the group Expel Racism, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"The incident on Wednesday was the straw that broke the camel's back."
The Muslim Union of Greece, representing thousands of immigrants in the country, has filed a lawsuit against the policeman.
"Police told us they need more time for the internal investigation so we went ahead and filed a suit," union president Naim Elghandour told Reuters.
Police have already launched an investigation into the incident.
This is not the first time the violent behavior by Greek police triggered turmoil in the country.
Greece plunged into chaos in December over the death of a teenager by the police.
Muslims make about 1.3% percent of the population in overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian Greece, according to the CIA facts book.
The capital Athens is home to an estimated 100,000 Muslim Albanians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Moroccans, Syrians and Nigerians.
The country is home to thousands of immigrants who cross into the country illegally every year seeking a better life in the West.
Trapped in legal limbo, most have no jobs, live in squalid conditions and are often arrested for minor crimes.
On May 9, members of a rightist group attacked immigrants in Athens, sending at least three to hospital.
Rights groups accuse the predominantly Orthodox Christian country of not doing enough to protect immigrants.
Greece says the burden of being the main entry point for illegal immigration into Europe is too heavy to bear alone and has asked its EU partners for help.